Ladrillo has certainly left its imprint on Murcia. Everywhere you turn, there's brick. The narrow streets of its towns are clogged with anonymous apartment and office buildings, cheap brick facades in hues that range from brownish to puke-orange. Even the expansive openness of Murcia's arid terrain offers little to rest the eyes on apart from terracotta drab, only sporadically interrupted by white outlet malls, gleaming plastic tarps of factory farms, or rare green patches of grape vines, olive trees and orange groves.
Spain's real-estate debacle and Murcia's brand of ladrillo-driven development are only part of the backdrop for the latest project of Madrid-based architects selgascano: an 18,500-square-metre seaside auditorium and conference hall in the port city of Cartagena, Murcia. Almost a decade passed from when the architects won the commission until the building opened to the public in late 2011, after facing numerous budgetary, construction and political hurdles. The protracted construction period certainly might have had its drawbacks, but it also provided a rare occasion for the architects to stick to their usual gutsiness and painstaking attention to detail, regardless of the scale and the demands of the project.
Instead of worrying about defining a personal style, the architects revisit and replay many of their signature technical processes and aesthetic concerns, producing unique results with each reiteration.
Critic and architectural editor
Design Team: Lara Resco, Carlos Chacón, José de Villar, José Jaraiz, Lorena del Río, Blas Antón, Miguel San Millán, Julián Fernandez, Beatriz Quintana, Jaehoon Yook, Jeongwoo Choi, Laura Culiañez, Bárbara Bardín
Interior Design, Architect of Record: selgascano
Assistants: Antonio Mármol, Joaquín Cárceles, Rául Jiménez
Site area: 5.628 mq
Total built area: 18.500 mq
Design phase: 2002
Cost: 34.5 million €
Structural Engineering: FHECOR
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineering: JG
Acoustic Engineering: ARAU ACUSTICA
Textile Engineering: LASTRA Y ZORRILLA
General Contractors: DRAGADOS, INTERSA
Plastic Manufacturers: POLIMERTECNIC, SABIC
Auditorium Seating: FIGUERAS
Floor Manufacturer: PRIALPAS
Lighting Manufacturers: IDEALUX, TALLERES ZAMORA
Wall Manufacturer: ATA AISLAMIENTOS TECNICOS AGROALIMENTARIOS